What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Dr. Edmond E. Pack, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

The most common symptom of fibroids are bleeding and cramping, says Edmond Pack, MD, an OBGYN at Southern Hills Hospital. In this video, he says that routine examination can discover fibroids as well.

Symptoms of uterine fibroids, or myomas, may vary depending on where the fibroid develops and how large it is. In many cases, uterine fibroids don't cause noticeable symptoms. If uterine fibroids do cause symptoms, they most commonly cause heavier menstrual bleeding, or they may prolong menstrual bleeding to last longer than seven days. Sometimes, uterine fibroids may cause a feeling of pressure of fullness in the pelvic area. Other symptoms may include pelvic pain, frequent urination, pain during intercourse, enlargement of the lower abdomen, constipation or back pain. In rare cases, degenerating fibroids (fibroids that start to die if they don't have enough blood supply) may cause severe pain.

Some women with fibroids have mild or no symptoms, while for others symptoms are severe and disruptive. Common symptoms include:

  • heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
  • abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods
  • pelvic pain (caused as the tumor presses on pelvic organs)
  • frequent urination
  • low back pain pain during intercourse
  • an enlarged abdomen, which causes a constant feeling of fullness or pressure

Some women experience iron-deficiency anemia from heavy or prolonged menstrual periods or abnormal bleeding between periods.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Uterine fibroids can cause symptoms such as heavy bleeding, urinary problems, back pain and leg pain. Watch the animation to learn more about symptoms of fibroids.

Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but some women with fibroids can have:

  • Heavy bleeding (which can be heavy enough to cause anemia) or painful periods
  • Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area (lower stomach area)
  • Enlargement of the lower abdomen
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Lower back pain
  • Complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section
  • Reproductive problems, such as infertility, which is very rare

If you have symptoms that you think may be caused by fibroids, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can confirm a diagnosis and help you find a treatment that will reduce or eliminate your symptoms.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

The most common symptoms seen with fibroids are heavy bleeding as well as painful menses. Some patients also complain of a fullness in the pelvic area or bloating in their abdomen. If the fibroids are in a certain position in the uterus, they can affect the bladder or the bowel causing urinary and fecal frequency and urgency. Some patients also have a significant amount of pelvic pressure, pelvic pain and low back pain from their fibroids.

Fibroids are benign muscle tumors arising in the wall of the uterus. They can cause heavy bleeding, menstrual cramping, pain, infertility and miscarriage.

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Most commonly, uterine fibroids are small and do not cause symptoms. The main symptoms that do occur, however, can be classified into three categories: abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pressure and pain, and problems with reproduction. Abnormal bleeding is the most common symptom of fibroids and typically includes heavy or longer periods. Pain or pressure symptoms are caused by a bulky or irregularly shaped uterus from the fibroids in the uterine wall. These can occasionally put pressure on the bladder or the rectum, causing problems with urinating or stooling. Some women also report pain with menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea) or pain with intercourse (dyspareunia). Fibroids have also caused problems with reproduction that make the uterus unfavorable for pregnancy. For example, they can sometimes cause women to have problems with getting pregnant, miscarriage or premature delivery of the baby.

Pain, pressure, frequent urination and heavy or irregular bleeding are symptoms of fibroids, according to Jessica Ritch, MD, Gynecologist at Aventura Hospital & Medical Center.

Dr. John C. Lipman, MD
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

Fibroids are benign tumors made up of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. They are very firm and hard to the touch. The hardness of these tumors along with the location of the fibroids in the uterus determines what symptoms a woman might experience, keeping in mind that most women with fibroids do not experience any symptoms. Fibroids that are located centrally along the lining of the uterus (submucosal) can stretch the lining to cause heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids along the outer walls (subserosal) can cause bulk symptoms which include pain if they are located laterally to press on pelvic nerves or increased urinary frequency if they are located anteriorly (i.e., on top of the bladder). Intramural fibroids, which are located in the main muscular part of the uterus, can cause either heavy bleeding if they become large enough to reach the lining, or bulk symptoms if they grow outwardly enough, or both.

While these symptoms are not exclusive to fibroids, if you are suffering with these symptoms, it may be due to fibroids, and you should discuss this with your doctor.

Dr. Evelyn Minaya, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Watch as obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Evelyn Minaya discusses the symptoms of uterine fibroids.

Continue Learning about Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids

If you have uterine fibroids, you may never even notice that they are there. Ranging from the size of a small seed to grapefruit-sized, fibroids are tumors on the uterus that rarely cause harm. Some women have true discomfort with ...

fibroids, including pain in the abdomen or low back, or pain during sex. Sometimes, uterine fibroids can cause miscarriage, preterm labor, or even lead to infertility. Women in their 40s and 50s, women of African-American descent and women that are overweight are at higher risk of developing fibroids, although an estimated 20-80% of women will have them at some point before they turn 50. If your doctor notices fibroids during an ultrasound or pelvic exam, he or she may want to treat them with medication or surgery.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.